The bands featured on Ishilan n-Tenere, an outstanding compilation of acoustic guitar songs from three regions of Senegal and Mali, don’t have the international renown of other artists from the two musically prolific nations, but according to the album description they have devoted local followings.  The recordings have an intimate feel perfect for a quiet afternoon or night in the house.

Representing the three regions, the songs are in diverse styles.  One of them reminds me of my favorite Ismaël Lo album.  The quality of the recording combined with the ambient noise in the background (I believe these songs were field recordings) really add to the warmth and intimacy of the project.  I can appreciate the no-frills presentation of the music,  the subheading is a simple enough description: “Guitar music from the Western Sahel.”  The marketing isn’t over the top or complicated, it just says what it is.  The label acknowledges the current state of music availability so encourages us to find the album for free.  You can stream it any time you like, and you can contribute any amount (above $2) to the project.   I can’t help but feel that this is how the music industry is supposed to work.  Financially supporting these beautiful recordings is highly recommended.

The label responsible for the compilation is Sahel Sounds.  Christopher Kirkley, the owner, recently gained attention for releasing another compilation that sparked for some: fantasies of discarded cellphone archeology and never to be identified mystery songs.  In reality, Christopher acquired the songs by trading via computer and cellphone bluetooth connections.  The songs were just great examples of contemporary popular music that people may currently enjoy in Brooklyn or the Banlieue as much as the Sahel.  Be sure to look out for more releases and follow the interesting blog at Sahel Sounds.

with people he met on his travel

Further Reading